With the riding season upon us, one of the most serious problems bikers have to deal with is the traffic accident. Approximately 70% of all multi-vehicle accidents involving a motorcycle are not the motorcyclists fault. The following will help you protect your rights and answer the question: What should I do if I go down??.
1. Witnesses. This is listed first for they will disappear the fastest, (especially due to the publics fear of bikers). Try and get some sort of identification so they might be contacted later. i.e. name, address, phone number, license plate number, where they work etc.
2. Other driver. All the traditional information is needed: name, address, phone number (at work and home), drivers license, make, model, color and license of vehicle. In addition be sure to get the insurance carrier and policy number of the driver. In Ontario failure to surrender this information is a criminal offense. Police must be called in any accident resulting in $800.00 worth of damage or in the case of any personal injury. It is advisable to call them in ANY accident situation, because damages can be hard to assess. Bear in mind also that the police officer is not a body repair person, nor is he a medical expert. He is a law enforcement officer. The potential exists for one or the other involved parties to come back at a later date seeking compensation. Do NOT make statements to the other driver. It may hurt you at a later date in court. If arrested, you are not required to give any statement to any one until you talk to your lawyer. Always cover all angles. Any accident is a traumatic ordeal. Try to remain calm. It will work to your benefit! One final thing. Listen to and memorize statements made by the other driver. These statements, (also known as admissions), may be used as evidence. An example of this would be a driver of a left turning car saying, "I didn't see you". His statement could used to prove the accident was his fault. NOTE: This can also work in reverse. Anything you say could also be used against you.
3. Most of what is recorded in a police report can be used in court. Keep in mind that most personal injury claims are settled out of court. A favorable police report can be instrumental in bringing you a quick and generous recovery for your injuries. As well all know, cops can be a mixed bag. However, in an accident situation I have found most police to be fair in their assessment of fault. This is especially true of the motorcycle cop.
4. This is not the time to show how macho you are. After the actual collision, take a few minutes to check yourself out. The initial shock may numb you as to how injured you really are. Remember, the human body is not made to be bounced off the ground. It is a good idea (and will aid in showing the validity of your case), to get checked out at the local emergency room. Be sure to explain all your pains to the doctor so he or she can make a complete evaluation and treat you appropriately for the injuries.
5. When you are contacted by the insurance company, (which is usually immediately even right at your hospital bed), tell him you don't wish to give a statement at this time. Even if the statement seems favorable to you the insurance company would have lots of time to pick out the flaws. Keep in mind that the adjusters job is to save the insurance company money, and therefore any money offered as a "fair settlement" will only be fair to the insurance company.
6. The first 24 hours after an accident are crucial for your case. An immediate investigation should be started including photographs showing your injuries, the accident scene and the involved vehicles. Statements from witnesses and the other driver should be obtained as soon as possible. The police report should be requested and an inspection of the point of impact for skid marks and other material evidence should be made. You will notice I advised you to call an attorney who specializes in personal injury. The law, as with medicine, is highly specialized, and you are entitled to be represented by an attorney who is best qualified to obtain a maximum recovery for your damages. A quick call to the attorney entitles you to the following services:
-protection from insurance company employees. The magic words are: "I am represented by counsel and don"t wish to make a statement".
-a house call if you are unable to go to the office.
-immediate investigation of your claim.
-the possibility that your bike will be fixed prior to the settlement of your injuries and a rented vehicle while you wait.
-the evaluation and protection of your legal rights.
RIDE FREE, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, AND RIDE PROTECTED!!!
Local Aid to Injured Motorcycle (A.I.M.) Attorneys can be reached nationwide at